What is the TSAC-F certification and why should I care that your certified?
The TSAC-F or Tactical Strength and Conditoning Facilitator certification is a certification that can be obtained through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). The NSCA provides regulation over most collegiate strength and conditioning programs by requiring coaches to receive proper training and obtain certification in their field. The TSAC-F was created in 2005 to provide a valid and specific certification for the ultimate or tactical athlete who relies on his or her training in order to stay alive. There are other certifications which focus on different elements within the strength and conditioning field and on the different types of athletes that a coach may encounter. Before entering into the strength and conditioning field, I didn't understand the differences between these certifications and the implications it would have on a coach’s knowledge base. In this article, I hope to pass on what Ive learned and instill the importance of findings coaches that specialize in your field of training.
Each of the different certifications require a unique certification process. For example, the CrossFit level 1 certification requires a weekend long course with the successful passing of a pass-fail examination at the end of the course. This certification is a lot easier to acquire than the NSCA certifications and the test answers are given to the attendees during the course. The two big strength and conditioning certifications regulated by the NSCA are the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and the TSAC-F. The CSCS is the standard certification for college and professional strength and condition coachs. These two certifications are much more difficult to obtain as there are manuals that exist that outline what is on the test and strategies to take the test but no official study guide. The test constantly changes and you can not re-take the exam for 6 months if you fail. These certification exams cover a broad breath of material to include athlete programming, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, cellular biology, energy systems, and technique. All of which you are expected to learn on your own. Many coaches taking this exam have a bachelors or master’s degree and have completed an internship before taking this exam to acquire the necessary knowledge to pass. I was fortunate enough to have great mentors while I was studying for mine.
You may be asking yourself...why do I care? The most important difference between the certifications is their focus on different types of athletes. If you are looking for a coach it is because you want a coach that specializes in what you want to be good in. During my time in the military and in the strength and conditioning communities I have learned that everyone is different. Undoubtably in your life you have watched a professional sporting event. There is 99.99 percent chance that all of those athletes have worked with a specialized strength and conditioning professional, to include golfers, nascar drivers and bowlers! A soldier/tactical athlete endures different stressors and requires a different level of training than a golfer. When a servicemember is deployed they may sleep on the ground and eat food loaded with sodium and packaged in a different decade. Unfortunately, not many soldiers have received specialized strength and conditioning training. If you stop and think about it this make zero sense!!! If a baseball player is out of shape and can’t make to second base, what happens? He's out and the rest of his team continues to play the game. If a Soldier, sailor or Marine cannot complete the mission people may lose their lives!!! Service members are resilient and have been able to succeed in less than ideal situations but proper training would help to decrease injury and conserve the fighting strength.
Personally, I was drawn to the TSAC-F due to my military background and my desire to train differently than my peers. Many of my soldiers had recurrent injuries to due ill programmed and inconsistent training. I wanted to find a better way to train and I believed that there had to be a better way then the cookie-cutter platoon PT focused towards the PT Test. If you are a person who believes that running, push ups and sit-ups are the only exercises necessary to make a good Soldier then I recommend we talk in-depth or never speak. The same training will not produce the same results for everyone. Even if the effort level is the same, each person’s physiological difference will produce different results. Individualized training with a certified coach allows an athlete to focus on their weaknesses and train in a way that is geared to their personalized goals. It is important that if you have specific goals (becoming a better soldier vs. professional athlete) that you find someone that understands the intricate and unique programming needed for your success. The certifications may just seem like a bunch of random letters but they allow you as an athlete to have a better understanding of your coach’s knowledge and specialty.